THE EFFECTS OF FOUR DIFFERENT WET TREATMENTS ON ALBUMEN PHOTOGRAPHS
VALERIE BAAS, CHRISTOPHER FOSTER, & KAREN TRENTELMAN
If aqueous treatment of an albumen print is necessary, it is important to reduce stress on the albumen-paper laminate. Limiting the expansion of albumen prints during aqueous treatments through the use of water and ethanol mixtures appears to be beneficial. Along the same lines, prints should be dried slowly, making the transition from wet to dry as gradual as possible to avoid abrupt dimensional changes. This study indicated that bathing samples in water ammoniated to pH 9 caused slightly less cracking than water alone. It is known among photograph conservators that ammoniated water causes greater swelling of proteinaceous emulsions than water alone. The elevated pH may make the albumen layer more elastic, allowing it to move more easily with the reactive paper substrate. Ammonia, however, may adversely affect silver compounds (Haist 1979, 248) and therefore should be used with caution until its effects are better understood.
The results of this study have shown that by using a mixture of water and ethanol and carefully controlling the wetting and drying conditions, it may be possible to moderate the effects of aqueous treatments on albumen prints. A comparison of the effects of different drying methods will be the subject of a future study.